Five contractors who were trapped more than 1,500 feet in a subterranean pipe after a fire broke out at a hydroelectric plant were found dead, the Georgetown, Colo.-based plant operator Xcel Energy confirmed on Oct. 2.
According to reports released on Oct. 10 by the Clear Cree Coroner's office, the men — Donald Dejaynes, 43; Dupree Holt, 37; James St. Peters, 52; Gary Foster, 48; and Anthony Aguirre, 18 — died from asphyxiation and smoke inhalation as a result of the industrial fire accident.
According to the company, the five workers were part of a team of nine contractors from RPI Coating of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., working in a penstock 1,500-2,000 feet below ground and applying an epoxy coating to the inside of the pipe to prevent corrosion. Four of the nine were positioned below the fire location and were able to exit the pipe.
The remaining five workers were reached by rescuers who confirmed their deaths, said Tim Taylor, president and CEO, Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company.
The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), OSHA and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are continuing to investigate the incident.